We are watching Juventus at the lowest of lows. They are embattled because they are losing to teams they shouldn’t be losing to and their fate in the Champions League is pretty much sealed with two group stage games to go.
There will be almost certainly be no Champions League football come the new year when everybody comes back from the World Cup break and who knows what kind of state the overall squad will be in come January based on how things are going right now. It’s been bad — really, really bad — and the hopes that things will turn for the better are dwindling tenfold with every passing game that goes by.
The worst part is, nobody knows when it’s going to end.
That’s because there doesn’t appear to be an ending of the downward spiral no matter who comes up on the schedule. It doesn’t matter if it’s the defending Serie A champions or the perceived minnows of the Champions League group, Juventus has sunk to a level in which their eighth-place standing in the league and bottom-of-the-group place in Group H is totally deserved.
So here comes one of the more intense matches of each season to greet Juve as they hope that going into ritiro is the thing that starts to correct things for the better. The first Derby della Mole of the 2022-23 season sees a Juventus squad that has been in ritiro ever since getting back from Tuesday night’s loss against Maccabi Haifa that dropped Juve into a near-impossible situation in the Champions League to try and get out of with two group stage games remaining.
We sit here nine weeks into the new season and Juventus and Torino are separated by all of two points in the Serie A table. Both clubs have won three of their nine games. Based simply on form, they are the walking definition of mid-table teams that will win as much as they will lose and that nothing more should really be expected.
One of these clubs finished 10th last season and sits in that same spot again this year.
The other — you know, the one with a much bigger payroll and wanted us to believe they could challenge for the Serie A title this season — is currently in arguably its worst spell since the Dark Ages when Ciro Ferrara, Alberto Zaccheroni and Gigi Delneri were roaming the sidelines.
And a big contributor to those struggles has been just how bad Juve’s playing away from home in both Serie A and the Champions League:
- Two draws and four defeats, something that hasn’t happened since 1938.
- No wins in six away fixtures, something that hasn’t happened since 1955.
- Only two goals scored in those six away fixtures, something that hasn’t happened since 1968.
- Four straight losses in away fixtures, something that hasn’t happened since the Dark Ages in 2010.
While Allegri says “we have plenty of time to recover” in terms of the Serie A table, the very fact that Juventus’ start to the 2022-23 season is officially worse than last year is an incredibly worrying sign. And as we’ve come to see over these first two months of the season, the top of the table is a crowded place with some surprising teams ahead of Allegri’s squad.
But at this point, are we really worried about how many points Juventus is behind Napoli? Or just how many clubs are in front of Juventus in the table?
Right now, the biggest thing is Juve showing any sort of sign that they can get out of this mess. As of the last few weeks, we haven’t gotten much of anything, with the wins over Bologna and Maccabi Haifa coming out of the international break pretty much wiped out by the losses to Milan and that same Maccabi squad.
Things are bad. They’re really, really bad. And maybe this ritiro is something that gets the squad playing a little better than they have been for pretty much the entire 2022-23 season. Maybe it’s just the same disjointed and
It just says a lot about Juventus these days that a slight improvement from the really bad is something that we’re hoping for. Or maybe you’re not, I dunno. At this point, I just want to see Juve get three points for more than one or two games in a row. Even that seems like a pretty big ask for Juve in its current state — which, my friends, is not something that you associate with clubs who want to compete for league titles and European glory.
- It’s something you’ve been reading about for a while now, but the three long-term absentees remain the same: Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba and Kaio Jorge.
- As Juventus was in Israel and subsequently losing to Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday, Chiesa was training with Juventus Under-17 squad and giving those young goalkeepers a steady workout during shooting drills.
- As announced earlier in the week, Angel Di Maria will miss the rest of the October slate of games after suffering a hamstring injury against Maccabi Haifa.
- When asked about the starting lineup choices against Torino, Max Allegri replied: “I haven’t yet decided on the lineup.” Thanks, Max.
- Allegri did say that he will play with two forwards up front, meaning it will likely be a 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2 formation against Torino. (Much of the Italian press thinks it will be a 3-5-2, for what it’s worth.)
- Allegri did hint that some squad rotation is in the cards as he pointed out just how many games are on the docket over the next few weeks. “We need to understand who needs a breather, both physically and mentally,” he said. (Sidenote: Who else needs a mental breather from Juventus?)
- Nineteen-year-old forward Samuel Iling-Junior has been called up from the U-23 — sorry, Juventus NextGen! — to provide a little more depth in attack with Chiesa and Di Maria both out injured.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
The unfortunate thing is that this part of the preview has become a place where one of two kinds of players are chosen:
- Said player is either coming off a good game.
- Said player has been not very good and needs to be better.
For this weekend, we will choose the latter because, well, there aren’t exactly many options for the other direction to take things. That is just the reality of the situation.
The above picture of Moise Kean basically sums up how most of us feel about Juventus right now — so much frustration combined with some long-standing disappointment in how things have been handled over the last few years. It’s all come to a head now, and the overlying problems within the squad just leave you throwing your hands in the air (but not in a good way like you just don’t care).
At this point, Kean’s return to Juventus has been an incredible disappointment. The same player that we saw blow his way through the Juve youth ranks and then storm onto the scene as a teenager is very much not the same player he is now. Those good memories of Kean from his early days with the Juventus senior squad have been thoroughly outnumbered by what we’ve seen of him the last 14 months since he rejoined Juventus — bad touches, bad passes, not many goals and everything that doesn’t have a positive kind of connotation to it.
With Allegri hinting at squad rotation, many in the Italian press are thinking that Kean will step in for either Dusan Vlahovic or Arek Milik in what is going to be a two-man attack in either a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2. If that’s the case, it’s just the latest opportunity for a very out-of-form Kean to try and get something going right again in this still-goalless season.
Yes, Kean still hasn’t scored a goal this season.
That might be a surprise to some. Or maybe it isn’t knowing how he’s rarely been in the starting lineup and has struggled mightily when brought on as a supposed impact sub.
So maybe this is the game where Kean actually gets his goal. And a start. Or both! Who really knows when it comes to Juventus and its players at this point.
When: Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.
Where: Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. in Italy and around Europe; 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); BT Sport app, BTSport.com (United Kingdom); DAZN, Sky GO Italia (Italy).
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.